Privilege (SubpŒNa).

– in the House of Commons on 21st May 1942.

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Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

I wish to ask for your guidance, Mr. Speaker, on a matter which may immediately affect the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris), my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Viscountess Davidson) and myself, and may retrospectively affect all Members of Parliament. Some months ago a constituent well known to me asked me to take up with the Home Secretary a question of a gentleman interned under Regulation 18B. My constituent supplied a memorandum indicating a prima facie case for further investigation, and I sent it to the Home Secretary. However, the right hon. Gentleman was not impressed, and I informed my constituent accordingly. Later, but for other reasons, the interned gentleman was released, and he is, I believe, taking certain legal proceedings against the Lord President of the Council. The solicitors to the gentleman released recently wrote to me and indicated that they intended to subpœna me for the purpose of giving evidence to show that steps had been taken to secure the release of the interned gentleman and stated that they wanted me to give evidence that I had written a letter to the Minister. If Members of Parliament are to run the risk of subpœna whenever they write to a Minister of the Crown, the position of Members of Parliament will be intolerable, and it is for that reason that I seek your guidance, Mr. Speaker.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I am at a loss to understand whether the hon. Member asks for my Ruling or for my guidance.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

At the moment I have not received a subpœna, but only an intimation that I may be subpœnaed.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The hon. Member himself will recognise that a case has not yet arisen on which I could give a Ruling. If he had actually received a subpœna, that would be a concrete fact upon which a Ruling could be given. Any Ruling that I could give now upon a set of facts which have not arisen and the circumstances of which are unforseeable would be a hypothetical Ruling—the kind of Ruling it has always been my practice and that of my predecessors to refrain from giving.